Researchers Copy a 3D Model By Recording Its Printer's Sounds

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Anyone looking to duplicate a 3D-printed model doesn't necessarily need computer hacking skills to do so. New research shows that the blueprint of a model can be copied simply by recording the sounds of the 3D printer as it produces it, Gizmodo reports.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine's Advanced Integrated Cyber-Physical Systems Lab made this discovery by recording the noises made by a 3D printer as it printed out a key-shaped object. The sounds generated by the servos, pumps, and extruders were all unique enough to give away their positions as well as the amount of filament they were printing at a given time. When the team attempted to reproduce the key using their sound copying and processing method, they were able to do so with 90 percent accuracy. 

While there are ways of protecting 3D model codes electronically, preventing the printing process from being audio recorded is a different story. These same results could easily be replicated using a smartphone's voice recorder, something that many people have access to. And with 3D printing technology being used in everything from medicine to archaeology, the threat of intellectual piracy is a widespread concern. The research team recommends that manufacturers ban smartphones while prototypes are being printed, or use white noise machines to conceal the process. For a more in-depth explanation of how the researchers were able to print a model from auditory information alone, check out the video below.   

[h/t Gizmodo]